Short Story Review: “Ghosts of Home” by Sam J. Miller

Ghosts of HomeGhosts of Home by Sam J. Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The distinction between house and home is an emotional connection. … a house is not a home … home is where the heart is … home is whenever I’m with you … This beautiful, little tale opens itself slowly to reveal its heart, depicting the disconnect some experience from a sense of home amid the backdrop of the American Housing Mortage Crisis that turned thousands out from the homes they loved.

Agnes lives in her car in a WalMart parking lot, using convenience store bathrooms to clean up. She hides her homeless status from her employer, Chase Bank, for which she visits defaulted and reclaimed houses to appease spirits within as the disrupted spirits can self-destruct ruining the asset. Most spirits never show themselves and are slightly calmed by an offering of an orange every few days. She’s tasked with not acknowledging the spirits directly. In one unassuming little red house, she’s surprised [not surprised] to find a strikingly handsome, intelligent, tattooed man with a introspective demeanor. Until, she realizes he’s not a squatter at all, but the spirit of the house . . .

Agnes’ relationship with her mother has always been strained. It’s worse now that the mother lost her house, in which Agnes grew up, and now resides in a trailer. Agnes’ childhood home had a Hindi spirit, Ganesha, which Agnes loved until about her teen years. As Agnes and mom battled, Ganesha became erratic. Eventually, Agnes ran away. During a visit to the trailer, Agnes’ mom reveals that when she was a little girl, the stable family next door was Indian and had a statue of Ganesha on their porch. Ganesha became her symbol of the stability of a home . . .

This tale appears in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 10 edited by Jonathan Strahan. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. I’ve previously read this author’s excellent “Calved” which appears in this same anthology.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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